The Conference Board said the U.S. leading index decreased 0.2 percent, the coincident index increased 0.2 percent, and the lagging index increased 0.4 percent in April. The leading index fell again in April, which is now the fourth consecutive decline because February’s small increase was revised down to a small decrease. The leading index has declined at a 1 percent annual rate over the last six months, and there have been more weaknesses than strengths among the components in recent months.
Five of the 10 indicators that make up the leading index increased in April. The positive contributors — beginning with the largest positive contributor — were average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, average weekly manufacturing hours, manufacturers’ new orders for nondefense capital goods, and manufacturers’ new orders for consumer goods and materials.
The leading index now stands at 114.5 (1996=100). This index decreased 0.6 percent in March and decreased 0.1 percent in February. During the six-month span through April, the leading index decreased 0.5 percent, with six out of 10 components advancing.